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Who Are the Team Members Who Help Treat Cancer?

Multidisciplinary Approach To Treating Cancer

In order to give you the best possible cancer care you will be cared for by a team of healthcare professionals. This team is called a multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary approach to treating cancer. You may have only a few healthcare providers – like an oncology nurse, an oncology nurse practitioner or oncology physician assistant, and an oncology physician. But, it is more common to have many providers on your team. These members may include some of the following:

Several oncology nurses (surgical, radiation, chemotherapy, inpatient and outpatient)
Nurse practitioner (NP) or physician assistant (PA)
Several physicians (medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, surgical oncologist)
Laboratory technician
Social worker or Case manager

One key to helping you and your team to communicate will is to keep a spiral notebook or diary. You can write down symptoms you have medication s you take (with the time of day taken, dose, and whether it helped), questions you have for your team members and their answers. Throughout this blog we will provide tips on how to successfully communicate with your team members.

When you make visits to see your team members at any time (whether diagnosis, during treatment or after treatment) there are a number of important points to tell your team members. On each visit please be sure to bring all of your current medications (in a plastic bag) or at least a list. Be sure to also include all over the counter drugs (drugs that do not require a prescription) you use and minerals, vitamins, and herbs. These would include drugs you buy at the store like cold or flu medicine, vitamin C, or glucosamine.

It is also helpful to tell your team members about any worries or fears that you have. Be sure to tell team members how you are doing physically, emotionally, socially (like with your work, finances, and fun activities) and spiritually. Prepare a list of questions you have before each visit so you do not forget to ask them. You can write down the answers or take a family member or friend with you to listen. You may not hear everything the healthcare provider says.

Lastly, if you have information you have been reading (like from magazines, books or the internet) take this with you to remind you to ask questions. If you are using a spiral notebook or diary you may want each team member to write their name and what they do in your notebook so know how to spell (and pronounce) the name and which department they are in (like medical oncology, social work).

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